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Title: Improving Mother-Infant Outcomes after Maternal Postnatal Depression
Author: O'Higgins, Madeleine
ISNI:       0000 0001 3453 1107
Awarding Body: Institute of Education (University of London)
Current Institution: UCL Institute of Education (IOE)
Date of Award: 2007
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Research suggests that postnatal depression affects social, cognitive and emotional development in the child. Impaired mother-infant interactions have been observed in postnatally depressed mothers and have been posited as a mediator of the developmental effects. A previous study found that mothers with postnatal depression had improved mother-infant interactions after attending baby massage classes. The current research aims to confirm and extend these finding~ and contribute to theoretical knowledge about the processes involved. Three groups participated: tvvo depressed groups, assigned randomly to baby massage classes (n=31) or support group sessions (n=31), and a group of non-depressed mothers (n=34). Mothers completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Spielberger State Anxiety Scale, the Infant Characteristics Questionnaire and a bonding scale and were filmed interacting with their infants before and after interventions, or at matched timepoints for non-depressed mothers. At one year, the Strange Situation Procedure and a distractibility task were also completed. Both depressed groups showed similar patterns of improvement on questionnaire measures over time, generally remaining worse than nondepressed mothers. At outcome, more 'massage' mothers showed a clinical reduction in depression scores than support group mothers despite no difference in mean scores. At one year, the median depression score for (massage mothers was in the non-depressed range while that of the support group remained above this range. Mother-infant interactions were not disturbed amongst depressed mothers at baseline. However, maternal interactions at one year for massage mothers were more similar to non-depressed mothers than to support group mothers. The findings show that both depressed groups improved over the study period. There is some evidence that depression scores improved more after massage classes than support group sessions. Lack of disturbance in mother-infant interactions at baseline confounded the goal of improving them and raises questions about the importance of postnatal depression as a risk factor for infant development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available